Ask any successful company’s manager or owner what’s the driving force behind their success, and he or she will tell you: “our customers”. If you’re not letting your customers, as well as potential customers, play a key role in content generation, you’re missing out on sales.
While asking customers what they want is a great way to open the stream of communication, there is plenty they tell you, unprompted. Logging comments and questions of your visitors is key.
How do you cull this information? It’s actually quite easy. Customer service reps should be logging information from visitor or customer emails, social media posts and phone calls. Typically, shopper-initiated comments or questions will fall under three main categories:
- Support – Problems they encountered on the website, which should be documented and tested to ensure the best experience for all visitors, as well as post-purchase inquires.
- Costs & Shipping Information – A misunderstanding, or difficulty in finding information, about where you ship, how much shipping will cost, and any other fees that may be charged, including taxes.
- Product Specifics – Questions about any particular product or line of products.
Let’s take a look at each category, and how listening to your shoppers can help you close more sales.
From website errors to unclear instructions, support issues frustrate shoppers. If there’s an actual error, such as a missing page or an error message that appears on the screen, it should be addressed as quickly as possible. By asking the shopper for specifics (e.g. browser used, version of browser, and the exact error code) you can help the developer or webmaster fix things that may be hampering hundreds of visitors from checking out.
Other support issues, though, can be a result of confusing instructions or a lack of information (e.g. how to wash the sweater that was just delivered). These details can help sell more product as well as keep existing customers happy.
An online store selling specialty clothing should provide care instructions on the product page. However, a blog post or supporting page about caring for certain products in general can help boost visibility and authority on the topic.
Be a useful asset to shoppers and potential customers. About Curves’ post on lingerie care is not exclusive to its own brand. The article is written for all types of lingerie.
Costs and Shipping Information
Some of these questions boil down to shoppers not reading. If you receive a high number of these requests, it’s a good indication you’re not being clear enough.
While shipping rates, delivery times, and sales tax aren’t typically worthy of posting on a blog, other things may be. For example, if you pack orders with eco-friendly materials because you care about the environment, it makes for a good post about the steps your company is taking to reduce waste. If you’ve found a way to reduce overall costs, and the savings are passed onto the customer, an article about it can help you sell more.
In other words, listen carefully and analyze the actual comments and questions. You may be surprised at the content that can generated by simply addressing shoppers’ concerns.
This is where the bulk of online stores are lacking real content – on product pages and supporting articles about product usage. Consider writing blog posts and articles about DIY tips, gift giving and unique ideas for use, among other topics. Here are some ways you can turn your products into detailed blog posts that will generate interest:
Do-It-Yourself Decorating / Building – DIY is a hot topic. If you sell products for the home or office, think about unique ways people can display items or use them for other purposes (repurposing is hot, too!). Decorating guides and design ideas help visitors see products in action.
Fashion Ideas – Clothing sites can benefit by showing off “ensembles”, including incorporating others’ wares to complete an outfit. Other resource posts can include color combinations that work, hair style tips and how to dress down or up a specific piece of clothing.
Unique Gift Ideas – Mix up DIY and product integration by showing ways to make gift baskets chock full of products they can find at your website.
Retro Planet’s blog post about using a $1.99 item as decor, party favors or for gift giving is accompanied by custom product photos that inspire. Readers are directed to a page that showcases all the cars available and volume pricing.
Troubleshooting – Tips on fixing issues can go beyond a support section or knowledgebase. Crutchfield, for example, has published several articles that address both common and not-so-common issues. These articles are informative, and though the website sells many solutions to address problems, the primary focus of such posts are to inform. As a result, the company’s site is also a great resource for people wanting to know how things work.
These types of posts keep Crutchfield’s name at the top of the list for many consumers of the products they sell. Even if one doesn’t buy a unit from Crutchfield, he is aware of the resource, which helps Crutchfield’s long term goals.
Did you know that Crutchfield provides general installation guides for the products they sell? The free guides are available to anyone.
Over the top, unique ideas – If a customer tells you he used your product in a way you never thought of, it can be the perfect opportunity for a post that gets people interacting. Ask the customer for photos and the steps he took. This practice is known as a form of user generated content (UCG), and the biggest of companies leverage it to increase visibility and profit.
Depending on what you sell, there are likely many more ideal ways to incorporate feedback into quality content that can help drive more sales. It all boils down to paying close attention to what others say about your company, the website and the products themselves. Listen, log, and plot content that makes you stand out from your competition.
Do you have some tips you’re willing to share? I’d love to hear how you’ve incorporated customer feedback into informative posts.